In previous articles we have talked about the complexity of happiness due to the presence of two Egos that take into account different elements to value the degree of happiness in our life. To this we must add the frequent errors in thought present in the nature of our mind.

The amount of cognitive biases that we humans commit in our daily lives is highly known and developed by psychologists like Dan Ariely and Daniel Kahneman due to the limitation of three of our cognitive processes: attention, perception and memory.

However, the bias that we humans commit most when thinking about our happiness is a cognitive error known as the illusion of focus .

What is the illusion of focus?

In his research on happiness, Kahneman adds this bias as a distorting element of our perception of reality , which leads us to value our level of satisfaction with life according to the most accessible information at the present time.

It is a cognitive bias or error in human thinking that consists in the distortion of the importance that an aspect can have on our happiness at the moment we are thinking about it. In other words, it is the unfortunate fact that we cannot think of any circumstance that affects well-being without distorting its importance.

The question order experiment

A well-known experiment in which this bias and the distortion of our elaborated judgments in the face of specific information is highlighted is that in which students are asked to evaluate, in general, the well-being of their lives. They are then asked how many appointments they have had in the last month. The correlation between the scores of these questions is negligible (0.012). The questions are answered independently.

However, if we reverse its order and ask first for quotations and then for happiness the correlation increases to 0.66. One question influences the other. The order of the questions has affected your answer. A cognitive distortion based on the change of focus.

Through this experiment, the influence of the illusion of focus is reflected, which according to Kahneman can be described with the following phrase: “nothing in life is as important as we think about it.


As much as it weighs on us, this thought mechanism influences all aspects of our life, and leads us to act in a way that may not come close to what really makes us happy . That is why, on many occasions, we overestimate the importance of buying that car, joining the gym, starting that relationship, investing in a new business, adopting a dog… and how that will increase our degree of well-being when, in fact, we may be victims of this cognitive bias.

If we can get something clear from this finding of our psyche, it is that nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it . Human well-being always depends on the illusion of your focus.

Bibliographic references:

  • Kahneman, Daniel. Think fast, think slow. Barcelona: Debate, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-8483068618.